Reading is a cornerstone of literacy and education as a whole. It is often considered the key to unlocking a myriad of understanding in a young person’s life that will set them up for success. However, reading doesn’t come easy for some students and determining effective instructional strategies for struggling readers is an issue that 66% of teachers consider to be one of the most important issues facing educators today.

The following strategies aim to help teachers who are looking to engage their students and develop their love of reading.

Choral Reading

When students are asked to take turns reading out loud in front of the class, it can be extremely daunting for students who aren’t confident in their reading skills. Research has shown that Choral Reading – where the teacher and students read a book aloud in unison, encourages all students to participate as any mistakes will be covered up by the rest of the class. This can help build their overall confidence and allow them to take more risks in other settings.

Alternate student and teacher reading choices

While teachers are excellent at selecting great texts for students who are reading level appropriate, nothing beats student choice for increasing student interest and engagement. Allowing students to choose their own books gives them ownership of their reading, and the independence in their reading enables them to develop a life-long love for literature.

Partner up cross-grade students

A study by literacy educators has shown the high impact that peers of students can have on their academic achievement and suggests that buddying-up high achieving older students with struggling younger ones can result in significant improvement. The younger students look up to the older ones, but also find them more sympathetic to their struggles with reading, thus creating a safe space to explore and practise. Not only will the younger students improve their reading skills, the older students will also benefit from the mentoring, and some students with behavioural issues will even show improvement.

Pre-teach vocabulary and spelling

When introducing a new text to the student or class, it’s a good idea to create a spelling/vocabulary list of key and new words that students are going to encounter, and present the list before they read. Getting students familiar with words by explaining their meaning, and having them participate in spelling games, can eliminate uncertainty when the words are encountered in a prescribed text. Word building increases confidence in students as an increased vocabulary result in better comprehension and fluency.